Is the Multi-Site Model for You?
The question is no longer, “Does the multi-site model work?” It works.
My friend and multi-site expert Jim Tomberlin keeps me up to date with the facts. Here are just a few:
- Multi-site churches outnumber mega-churches
- Currently there are over 3,000 multi-site churches nationwide and growing
- Two-thirds of multi-site churches are denominational
- Both in-person and video teaching are widely used
- Average size of a church going multi-site is 850
- Average size of a multi-site campus is 361
- Average weekend attendance of a multi-site church is 1,300
- Multi-site campuses have a 90% success rate
The question is whether or not multi-site is for you.
The church I serve, (12Stone® Church), is a multi-site church with 4 physical campuses plus online services. We are located in Gwinnett County, a suburb of Atlanta. We’ve been engaged in this strategy for about 5 years. We love it, sense God’s blessing and are having the time of our lives!! We still have much to learn, but I can share a few things that may help you if you are considering the a multi-site approach.
Don’t do it unless you are certain that God is leading you in that direction. The multi-site model should not be approached as a program option, merely a tool for evangelism or growth, or a solution for running out of space. While multi-site can speak to all these issues, it’s a much larger decision. It defines your ministry, shapes how you make decisions, and requires a huge commitment or it won’t work. You can add one campus without massive complexity, but the moment you add your second, fasten your seat belt because you will discover you didn’t know all you needed to know.
Do insist on top quality communication. If you are considering the video approach to multi-site, your primary communicator needs to be good. Really good. Yes, God’s favor is the real deal, and the Holy Spirit’s presence brings any true life changing power to the service, but we do lead from a human realm. And communicating through a video driven mode requires excellent communication skills.
Don’t start your first campus until you have nearly exhausted the capacity of your current site. This is a practical principle for two reasons. First, it helps your people see the need, and second, you want your financial base as strong as possible before you launch your first site.
Do make sure your core team of leaders has bought into the idea. Don’t get all inspired and announce “Hey everyone, we’re going multi-site!!” They may say: “You’re going where?!” You may significantly damage any long term potential of launching out with this model.
Do send a core of your people to “plant” the new campus. It’s not just about volunteers and a core to worship with, it’s really about learning how to transfer the DNA of your church. That’s a really big deal. Vision and DNA alignment, candidly, (along with finances) is the factor that most often derails the success of a multi-site campus. This issue doesn’t guarantee failure, but it can sure make your life difficult.
Do know WHY you are going multi-site!! Get some help, seek wise counsel, think it through and pray much. If when you have done your homework, you are convinced that multi-site is for you, then go for it with all your heart!! It will be the ride of your life.
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